GOP'S Immigration Dilemma - Congress Should Pass an Immigration Bill Now!
The Case for & against Immigration Reform
America - A History of New Arrivals in Search of a Better Life
Despite the history of America as being traditionally a safe haven for immigrants, immigration has always been a hot button issue. Whether the debate involves controlled immigration, illegal migration, or the need for reforming U.S. immigration laws, the sentiments surrounding immigration have consistently invoked old feelings of supremacy, resentment, 'nativism', insecurity, fears, and racism. These sentiments and opinions have been rooted in questions of who is a real American, racial purity (the need to protect the Anglo-Saxon heritage and way of life), protectionism (the need to protect the country from what is perceived to be an invasion by foreigners), or a point of view that foreigners will never assimilate and therefore will change the country for the worst. These views, which are at the core of almost all of the opposition to the current immigration reform movement, have not changed since the arrival of the first waves of immigrants. What changed are the demographics of the country. The changing population, with the help of technology, has shifted American public opinion toward a more progressive view on fairness and human rights in almost all areas of life, and brought a new climate of awareness that at the very foundation of America’s greatness is a genuine belief in the protection of individual and civil rights for all, at least generally and theoretically.
A summary of how the fabric of this country was constructed, not necessarily by design, but perhaps by destiny, may shed some light as to why the current discussions about immigration reform have been so controversial. Based on more recent public opinion polls, most Americans have reached a more relaxed attitude toward new immigrants, legalization, and citizenship than the guarded and at times hostile reactions that have met these debates in previous years. Nonetheless, various political and ideological groups, particularly in Tea Party Republican circles remain divorced from this seemingly more positive attitude on the issues. Many in that group have mounted a relentless campaign of no way no how, punish them, even though some in the party have clearly recognized the need for immigration reform, if not on principle but for political survival, since they party lost the Latino vote by over 60% to President Obama in last November elections. But that has not abated the virulence and the visceral reactions to the new movement for immigration reform. Fortunately, those groups do not constitute the majority of American voters.
Statue of Liberty - New York Ellis Island
The common arguments/case against immigration reform
It is very important to distinguish between immigration, which is a voluntary movement by individuals from one country entering another country - whether legally, meaning with proper consulate and or embassy documentation - and illegal immigration where immigrants from another country enter a foreign country without the proper documentation from the host country. It is equally important to understand the difference between immigration and migration. Migration is the process by which people or animals move from one place of habitat to another. In that sense, migration can take place within or without a county, and happens all over the world. Mass migration has occurred in countries from China to the West Indies where people move in mass from rural areas to inner-cities. This has been the primary cause of congestion in major cities all over the world, and it happens for various reasons, the most important of which is typically the loss of agriculture opportunities sufficient to make a living on the land.
Many articles about immigration, some by respected scholars, have conflated the two and discuss within their immigration article what they refer to as the Great African American migration of the 1920’s. This is at best a misnomer and at worst a purposefully misplaced insertion into the immigration debate. The problem with including the movement of Blacks from the South to the North and to the Western States is that millions of Americans and people around the world move from one region of their countries to another every day. That is migration. This movement cannot be prevented nor outlawed, and no one has yet come up with any reasons why this type of migrating activity is wrong or should be stopped or regulated. Migration is primarily a factor of socio economics and the freedom of movement is protected under the U.S Constitution.
More insidious is the regurgitation of the same old arguments that immigrants degrade the quality of life for Americans, bring higher crime rates, and are uneducated and even lazy. Those same arguments have been made with every group of new arrivals. But a look at the very real first new arrivals reveals that they were mercenaries. Some refer to them as explorers, but while they may have left Europe on a discovery expedition, they certainly ended up ravaging the new land, robbing it from everywhere of value, particularly gold, from South and Central America to the West Indies. They raped women and killed both women and children. They burned their huts, and left the living dying of diseases those populations had not been exposed to because those diseases were endemic to Europe.
The Vocal Opposition
A Brief History of Immigration in the U.S.
In 1526, the first slaves were brought to America by Spanish [conquistadores] “explorers.” In 1620 the first pilgrims arrived in the U.S. territories on the Mayflower. They were followed by large waves of migration from Europe, and among the new immigrants were the Puritans who arrived in the U.S. between 1880 and 1920. However, between the 1700’s and the 1900th Century, the transatlantic slave trade continued. During that time, hundreds of thousands of Africans were kidnapped from West Africa, particularly from the Congo and Guiney and brought to America against their will. Those Black men and women were transported in chains and under cruel and inhuman conditions at the bottom of large ships across seas and continents on the longest of journeys by European slave-traders. Upon their arrival in the new land, those Africans were sold and kept as slaves. They were forced to live in horrible condition and remain in that status past the declaration of independence in 1776, and until the emancipation proclamation, which some scholars refer to as the second declaration of independence, by Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861. This happened 85 years after the declaration of independence and 5 years before the end of the Civil War, which formally ended on August 20, 1866 with the last surrender of the Confederate. In total, these forced new inhabitants to the U.S. were subjected to slavery for 335 years. Blacks, or if one prefers, African Americans, are not immigrants to this country. They were never a part of any wave of immigrants under the correct definition of immigrants, and have in fact been in this country several hundred years prior to the large numbers of arrivals of immigrants from Europe, some of whom today think of Blacks in this country as outsiders.
Between 1880 and 1920, more than 25 million foreigners arrived on American soil. This new wave of immigrants came primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe, including Germany, Great Briton, Italy, Poland, and among them were large numbers of Jews. This migration continues after World War II through 1950’s.
In the late 1960’s through 2005, immigration to the U.S. increasingly derived from countries in Asia, some it triggered by the Vietnam War, and therefore many of the South Asians came here under refugee protection status. Others came from Africa and Latin America. The ethnic backgrounds of these new immigrants markedly added to the texture of the melting molt, which re-energized calls in some sectors for ethnic purity and protectionism, often on the basis of 'nativism' and supremacy, and hardly veiled or disguised. These discussions can be hyperbolic and do not always reflect the drive behind the sentiments, as some simply hold tight to 'nativism' as having being a part of the Anglo Saxon heritage by birth right. Others simply understand 'nativism' to mean having being born in the United States. Ironically, or a cynic might say perhaps by design, none of the discussion relating to the 'nativism' theory ever seems to include Native Americans. Somehow, they have been left out of the discussions in the absolute. This is even more paradoxical, considering that many Native Americans were forced into slavery, as well, in the Slave Era in America. One has to wonder how those Native Americans must have felt when their land was being flooded by foreign invaders, beginning in the late 1400’s. How scared were they for their way of life, their security, and their well-being? And if they were stupefied, which we know they were not, since they fought till the end, it would have been perfectly understandable because history now shows that they had good reasons to be afraid.
The Senate So-Called Gang of 8 Bipartisan Group that Worked and Oversaw the Passing of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill of 2013
However, despite the bloody beginning, and the immoral and unethical historic facts, in many ways, the new comers did change the land for the better, insofar as industrial advancement, economic growth, and a democratic form of government and rights. These are all part of the legacy of those early new Americans with a very mixed record on civilization. The point is, the new immigrants of today also will participate in the continued growth of America. They will work hard, and strive to uphold those values and will contribute proudly to the same types of activities and endeavors that have made this country a better place for more of its people. This is progress, unless progress can only be judged and measured simply based on the percentage of Anglo-Saxon Protestants that make up the majority of the U.S. population.
The truth is, while many of the issues around immigration reform remain the same, a large share of the failure for enforcing immigration laws fall squarely on the Federal government. Some of this failure has been caused by peace-meal immigration laws that Congress has passed with provisions that are plainly unenforceable. Since 1990, 18 bills to reform immigration have failed in Congress. 6 bills passed, all six having to do with refugee Acts. And Congress took no action to reform immigration, even though at least 2 of the 6 bills that were passed were rolling continuing resolutions. Worse than this, the 1990 Immigration Act signed by president Bill Clinton, which contained several enforcement mechanisms, including a mandate requiring employers to check and verify job application papers and ID for all job applicants, was weakened when Republican interest groups fought to exempt employers from liability for hiring employees with no legal documents to work in the country.
Last month, the Senate passed a bill that will dramatically reshape the nation's immigration laws for the first time in a generation. The vote was 68-32 with Vice President Joe Biden presiding. 14 Republicans joined every Democrat to pass the bill. The bill is now in the House where Tea Party Republicans have threatened to derail it, making the fate of immigration reform uncertain. The last comprehensive immigration reform law was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. At that time, the law gave amnesty to approximately 3 million people who had been in the country illegally, meaning without proper documentation. Those people are not “aliens;” they are not “illegals” or “mules,” they are human beings who happened to have entered the country, some for economic reasons, some seeking a better life for themselves and their family, and others for political reasons. And, by the way, political refugees are not immigrants either. They are people forced to leave their country of origin due to political persecution and in fear for their lives. Neither are migrant workers immigrants. Migrant workers are people that the government has allowed to enter the country as a condition for working on farms. Many of those people make very low wages, and work long hours under very harsh conditions. The problem with the Regan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, (IRCA) is that it had a cutoff date, which did not cover people who had been in this country before the law was passed. This left millions out in the cold. In addition, the act had a different and unequal provision for certain groups that were only given a temporary legal status. In other words, since immigration enforcement has increased dramatically with raids of employment places and detention and deportation of millions of people under President Obama, plus thousands of miles of the Southern borders have been secured, trooped, and placed under constant surveillance since the 1986 Act, the time has come to redress and address the remaining issues in the U.S. immigration system. Undocumented residents are not good for the country. People with no legal papers live in fears. They do not go to the doctors or hospitals when they are sick for fear of being deported; they do not report crime, and some are so afraid they even resort to taking their children out of school. These are not only human suffering; these issues can pose real threats to public health, public safety, and create adverse effects on society at large. Immigrants do want to learn English, and they also want to prosper. They do not live on government benefits, because for the most part they live in hiding and no one can obtain government benefits without showing multiple legal documents. There are no statistics that show that immigrants commit any more crime than the general population
President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform
Reform Immigration Now!
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner should provide leadership for the passage of a comprehensive Immigration Reform Act in 2013 with permanent provisions allowing beneficiaries of the bill to obtain citizenship within a reasonable amount of time. The current wait period of 5 years is long enough. The borders are more secured than ever before and the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been enforcing immigration laws at a dizzying pace under President Obama. The Congressional Budget Office has issued a report estimating that immigration reform will broaden the tax base and increase the U.S. Treasurer Revenue by bringing millions of people out of the shadow and into the fold. President Obama has put his full support and leadership behind this priority. Congress must now act in a manner that is decisive and reject the calls to make this bill so punitive and scary that it will be eviscerated by the fear it will strike into the heart of anyone would have to go before the INS to apply at the risk that they would be denied and then find themselves in a worse position than before such a bill was enacted. The country must not allow the Tea Party Caucus in the Republican Congress to lay traps in a legislation that is meant to move the country forward as a whole.
Sources - Reference & for more info
- Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Home Page
(by WLF Policy Group)
- NumbersUSA | For Lower Immigration Levels - For Lower Immigration Levels
NumbersUSA® provides a civil forum for Americans of all political and ethnic backgrounds to focus on a single issue, the numerical level of U.S. immigration. We favor reductions in immigration numbers toward traditional levels that would allow presen
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